Restricting Use of Browser on iPhone

When I was trying to “declutter” my smartphone, one of the hardest battles was with the browser on my iPhone. An iPhone comes with the default Safari mobile browser which you cannot uninstall. You can also easily install third party browsers via the App Store if you like. This post is about restricting the use of mobile browsers on an iPhone. Why? Because I don't want it to suck up all of my time. The browser on my phone allows me to stay connected to the internet pretty much the whole time. To me, that is something that is very hard to resist. I touched upon this on an earlier post about Smartphone Addiction.

The Screen Time settings on an iPhone control a number of things, but the most important one as far as this post is concerned, is the ability to “disable” the Safari mobile browser on an iPhone.

To disable the Safari browser on an iPhone you can go to Settings –> Screen Time –> Content & Privacy Restrictions –> Allowed Apps. On the Allowed Apps page, you can enable/disable a number of core iPhone apps, like Mail, Safari, FaceTime, Camera, Siri, etc...

So, while you cannot uninstall Safari, I think disabling it and then setting a Screen Time pass-code to prevent re-enabling it, is even better in my opinion. Working off this realization, I thought I could make it harder for me to re-enable Safari if I let the wife set the Screen Time pass-code on my phone.

Without me looking, my wife can set a pass-code and write it down on a piece of paper. This piece of paper can then be stored inside my wallet. This way, if I really need to use the browser on my phone and she is not reachable, I can find out the pass-code by checking my wallet. At the same time, the act of having to find the piece of paper containing the pass-code, should be enough friction to discourage me from trying to use a browser on my phone when I'm bored.

So that takes care of the default Safari mobile browser on an iPhone, but what about the ability to install third party browsers via the App Store? Unfortunately I don't really have a good solution for that one. The Screen Time settings also allow you to prevent installing new apps from the App Store, however there is no filter to only block installations of mobile browser apps. So if you toggle that setting, you will not be able to install any apps from the App Store.

I suppose the workaround here is to install all the apps you need on your phone, before toggling the setting to disable installation of apps and then setting the Screen Time pass-code. That might be a little too extreme for some, but there are also people who have switched from smartphones to feature phones to gain back their attention, so it all depends on how far you are willing to go. I for one have not gone this far yet.


Discuss... or leave me a comment below.